Banding Brings Birds' Stories to Life

 

It’s hard to believe that the 2016 spring banding season is halfway over. Guess it is true what they say: time flies when the days are full of interesting birds and visitors!

 

At the time of writing, the Banding Lab has banded 564 new birds and has had 446 recaptures—totaling just over 1,000 bird handlings to date, which is almost exactly average for the last 10 springs. Numbers of birds captured is corrected for by the effort per net-hour—or the number of nets multiplied by the number of hours each net was open. Due to the spell of cold, wet weather two weeks ago our net-hours are a bit less than usual.

 

While major fallout days can bring a lot of excitement to the Banding Lab, we have seen a number of very interesting birds this season.

 

For example, on Friday, April 22, the Banding Lab was greeted by a very unusual bird, a female European Goldfinch.

 

“I have banded many of this species in various European countries, long ago, but it is a first for Manomet," recalled Trevor Lloyd-Evans, Director of Landbird Conservation. “The 'European' Goldfinch was in immaculate plumage, with no signs of cage wear and plenty of subcutaneous fat for migration. I put the 'European' in quotes because the plumage is more consistent with the 'Eurasian' Goldfinch (Carduelis c. caniceps) of the gray-headed race centered about the Pamir Mountains.

 

Given the popularity of goldfinches as cage birds and the many attempts at introductions around the world, I imagine records committees may find the origin questionable. She is much bigger than the demure American Goldfinch female we banded at the same time,” said Lloyd-Evans.

 

From left to right: American Goldfinch and the strange 'European Goldfinch'

 

The goldfinch has definitely been the most exotic species at Manomet this season, but she wasn’t the only bird that had an interesting story.

 

On May 4, we recaptured a female Northern Cardinal that was originally banded at Manomet in April 2007, making her at least 10 years old! She has been captured on our property 21 times and processed by 13 different banders. We recorded a brood patch on her in six different seasons, so we have probably banded many generations of her young on the property as well!

 

This female Northern Cardinal was originally banded in April of 2007, making her at least 10 years old.

 

On Thursday, May 12, Mr. McDevitt, a Buzzards Bay resident, brought in a dead Common Tern with a band. While dead birds are not something we usually note at Manomet, this tern was originally banded as a chick by Ian Nisbet on Bird Island in Buzzards Bay on June 10, 1997. From the bird’s banding records, we know it commuted from Buzzards Bay to the Caribbean coast of South America for nearly 19 years—quite an accomplishment!

 

You only have to take a glance at the 2016 State of the Birds Report to see that many birds are facing major population declines and our landbird data set echoes many of the same trends. That’s why it’s inspiring to hear stories of birds that define the odds and find ways to prosper in our changing world.

 

Although the season is well underway, spring banding will continue until June 15. If you want to experience the magic of birds up close, please come to Family Day at the Banding Lab on Saturday, June 4.

 

2016-05-19 05:00